Sputnik: The Resolution Foundation has calculated that the official poverty rate rose from 22.1 per cent to 23.2 per cent, the biggest single year jump since 1988, with benefit cuts and inflation hitting hard. How significant is this?
Mark: I think often figures like this miss the real issue, which is what happens to people who are at the bottom of the pile, who are already on the lowest incomes and are feeling the impact of this the hardest. This isn’t a surprise to anyone who’s been suffering because they’ve been like this in some of our communities for a long long time. This is no surprise but I think it’s an issue that’s getting worse, we’re seeing it in a lot of the communities we work with in Indycube, and a lot of the self-employed people who themselves are coming across the same issue on a daily basis. So that’s the one thing, but I think the reality is that this is an everyday reality of increasing poverty right across our communities in the UK.
Mark: I think we have a system that just doesn’t work and it stopped working a long time ago for most people in the country. When we have politicians talking about how the economy has grown by ‘X’ percent over a year, what that misses is the differences, the start differences, of one community and another. When one community grows it doesn’t mean that some of the communities in post-industrial areas have grown too, they could have well shrunk in that time. There are a lot of things amiss, but you’re right, these are real people who are struggling with things and we could look at this as some of the reasons why we’re in the position that we are, with regards to Brexit; we’ve had a situation where people are starting to say ‘this is no longer an acceptable situation’. The danger is we blame one party or another for the plight we’re in, whereas what we’re not doing is considering the full economic system that we’re working within, and for me that where the problem lies – we’ve got a situation where ‘Big Business’ rules and small communities often lose out.
Mark: Poverty is a lack of money at the end of the day. I’m a believer in and think that we’re going to have to move into towards a universal basic income system, where we actually have sufficient money for people to have a life that is sufficient. We’ve got to move beyond the answer that is trolled out, over and over again, is that the answer to poverty is jobs. In Wales where we’re based, we have the highest growth people in relative poverty, there have been no families where two or more aren’t working. Evidently, jobs aren’t the way out of poverty, that’s gone and it’s been gone for long time.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.